Exclusives Are ‘Completely Counter To What Gaming Is About,’ Xbox’s Phil Spencer Says

Exclusives Are ‘Completely Counter To What Gaming Is About,’ Xbox’s Phil Spencer Says
Image: Xbox Game Studios

Console exclusive games have long been a hallmark feature of new console generations. Exclusive titles force gamers to adopt a new console as soon as possible with warnings of spoilers and FOMO nipping at their heels. For those in lower socioeconomic groups, this means added pressure for an expensive upgrade they may not be able to afford.

This is why the Xbox Series X isn’t focusing on console exclusive games, according to Xbox head Phil Spencer. In a recent interview with GamesIndustry, Spencer said the lack of current console exclusives is intentional.

“We should applaud load times and fidelity of scenes and framerate and input latency, and all of these things that we’ve focused on with the next generation,” Spencer said. “But that should not exclude people from being able to play.”

Spencer classified gaming as a fun, community activity — and not one that should ever exclude people based on their financial situation or lack of access.

“Gaming is about entertainment and community and diversion and learning new stories and new perspectives,” he said. “I find it completely counter to what gaming is about to say that part of that is to lock people away from being able to experience those games. Or to force someone to buy my specific device on the day that I want them to go buy it, in order to partake in what gaming is about. Gaming is bigger than any one device…”

This approach aims to create a gaming community joined by a love of games without the added pressure of upgrading immediately to new hardware. Given the predicted high cost of the upcoming console generation, this creates welcome breathing room for gamers who aren’t able to invest in a pricy new console just yet.

On the other hand, it also makes upgrading far less appealing for those who already have an Xbox One or capable gaming PC. While there’ll obviously be significant improvements to graphics, loading times and framerate with the Xbox Series X, if the same games are available on both Xbox One and Xbox Series X (or Windows PC), it’s more likely people will be comfortable sticking with the last console generation for the long haul.

Community is an essential part of gaming and it’s great to see Xbox making allowances for everyone to continue playing together, but this model is not future-proofed. How long this approach will continue and whether developers will continue supporting crossgen games is currently unconfirmed.

For those on the fence about purchasing a brand new Xbox Series X, this is one more reason to hold off and reassess your future gaming needs. With few currently confirmed exclusives, you might just be able to hold out and save yourself a whopping big purchase.


  • Says the man whose company keeps getting slammed by the competition, by their exclusives. And then about PS exclusives they are almost almost high quality games. Like some of the best quality games on the market. I can barely think of a misstep.

    Look I don’t like exclusives in theory but at the same time what separates an Xbox from a PS? Other than looks, a few stats, and different UI?

    And if his statement is true, can I look forward to playing the new Halo on my PS5?

    • Came here to say this.

      Funny that since the early days of gaming, exclusives have always defined the console and their generation… Sonic VS Mario etc.

      The only reason he’s saying this is because Sony’s Exclusives (and Nintendo) > Microsofts.

      • With Double Fine, Ninja Theory, and Obsidian added to Microsoft’s portfolio, that could change. That’s assuming that this doesn’t represent an announcement that they will all continue producing multi-platform games.

    • yeah except microsoft are still making millions and millions of dollars from the xbox and PC gaming world. No doubt Sony are making epic exclusives, i love them, but gee ive never seen a more tight ass company than Sony. Forcing players to buy new hardware for the new games, no good game subscription service blah blah blah. I think he makes valid point whilst also looking like a a bit of a loser

    • Yeah, exactly this.

      At this point I’m just glad Xbox exists to prevent Sony from charging us $1000+ for their far superior offering… which we all know they damn well would if they could.

    • Yeah his comments come off really desperate.
      The console business is still a business. Sony frequently invest in high quality single player exclusives that make owning their consoles absolutely worth it in my opinion.

  • That’s a really funny way of saying “We still don’t have a compelling reason for you to buy our new console.”

    • Yep…. Xbox continues to be irrelevant to me (and anyone else with, at least, a half decent computer).

  • Oh sweet, Halo on PS5, I mean, otherwise it’d be the complete opposite of what he’s just said

    • This exactly.
      Also, MS buying up developers.

      I’m sort of interested in the new Xbox depending on price, but I have a gaming PC already, so if everything is coming to Windows then I think it will be a pass from me.

      If MS was going to stop having exclusives altogether, then I’d probably grab a PS5 and stick with my PC. I wish their were not exclusives, but I’ll believe MS has moved past it when they release their games on the Switch and Playstation.

      • In our house we eventually get all the consoles. Partner and I will both grab the newest Xbox to play with each other, she’ll then concentrate Nintendo, and I’ll go PlayStation.
        This pretty much nullifies any “exclusives” swaying too much either way.
        That being said, Sony has regularly pooped on Microsoft for exclusives recently (Nintendo do what they want).
        And for sure going to be getting a PS5 first this time, cos Horizon and Miles.

  • I respect MS for taking this stance within the confines of its own operations but I’m not going to hold it against Sony and Nintendo for investing in and supporting quality exclusives and developers.

    The thing I can’t respect is the constant PR narratives and moral postering that makes for effective blurbs and feel good articles but don’t really stand up in reality.

  • I don’t see this as MS bowing out of the console wars. Indeed, I think that MS is playing it smart by widening the playing field. Can’t compete on console numbers? No fear, MS will now class everything with a Windows OS as a platform on which to sell its exclusives. Wait and see – there will be a lot of ‘exclusives’ that are playable on PC and Xbox but not available anywhere else (including Playstation and Nintendo). MS has acquired studios but has correctly had them developing for both PC and Xbox so as to maximise return on investment.

    • Microsoft have had an entire generation to get their act together with any kind of console selling exclusives. Ended up with Halo and Forza. What makes you think anything will change?

  • I think Microsoft’s stance on making gaming more accessible for a wider audience is a great initiative that other companies are lacking in. Most people don’t consider how disadvantaged people, especially those that are physically, play video games. At the moment, to play PlayStation exclusives, you must not only have the money, but also be capable of operating the controller since Sony doesn’t offer much in the way of accessibility.

    It would make sense down the line for PC/Xbox releases associated with Microsoft to pass accessibility criteria. It would be a good day for everyone.

  • I kinda feel like people are somewhat missing the point Phil was actually making, to be fair this article doesn’t make his point very clear and takes his quotes somewhat out of context. I mean the headline “Exclusives Are ‘Completely Counter To What Gaming Is About,’ Xbox’s Phil Spencer Says” is a tad misleading.

    He wasn’t saying every first party game should come to every console, or that Halo will come to PS5, or that exclusives don’t have a role to play in their strategy.

    He was talking about their reasoning behind releasing Xbox exclusives across Xbox One and Series X consoles for a while and not needing to force your current audience to upgrade straight away as it’s no big deal to develop games for a range of hardware.

    Obviously since they’ve been buying up studios they think exclusive content is important, they just don’t think it’s important in the sense that it has to be exclusive to their one new console, just to their ecosystem.

    • This makes way more sense than the article and TBH, I have actually been swaying way more to Day 1 next gen being Xbox and 6 months later being PS5 as opposed to the other way around as it was this gen.

      Big influence on me is Game Pass which means I’ll have next gen Halo and Forza on day 1 with no extra costs.

      That being said, we are still waiting on pricing so may sway back..

    • That’s true. He’s making a different point than the heading suggests but I’m not a fan of his actual meaning either, to be honest. While I suppose it’s laudable to not restrict games to new hardware, at the same time that means that there’s nothing that *can’t* be run on older hardware which means for a long time XBox games aren’t going to have something that couldn’t be done on current gen hardware. PS5 on the other hand has at least the possibility of something genuinely different and possibly even game-changing amid what will probably be a bunch of gimmicky uses of the new hardware.

      • That’s really not quite right.

        Think of the new consoles as basically upgrading your PC.
        When you play a state of the art new game on PC, yes you can enable all the bells and whistles and hope for the best.
        Alternatively, you can scale it down to suit lower performing specs.

        I am fairly certain this is exactly what he means.
        Xbox One will be like an old PC with features turned down or outright disabled (for example ray tracing).
        XSeX will be like a gorgeous top tier prostitute rendered with ray tracing and additional boob bouncing physics.

        • That’s how XBox is treating it, but that isn’t how it has to be. The storage IO in both the PS5 and the Xbox SeX allow for gameplay that just flat out cannot be done on older consoles or even on nearly all PC’s (see the Ratchet and Clank demo) – and that’s what I want from PS5 exclusives.

    • I still disagree with this thinking. Dumming down tech so games work across generations is a terrible idea and that’s the only way what he is suggesting will work.

      If you want the newest tech, money will need to be spent but you get the benefit of having new tech.

      Microsoft are just pissy because the PC eco-system doesn’t run the entire show and they can’t throw money at the problem and monopolise the whole gaming market.

  • A lot of xbox haters in the comments.

    For all those people who say “who would buy this if they have a PC?” I use my PC for work, it can run things from the 360 era reasonably well, I have no interest in upgrading it, sitting at a desk holding a mouse feels like work – I’d rather spend less money and have a couch experience, that’s the market for xbox

    • and as an alternative, people like me that would rather bang their head against a wall than play a game at low res and low frame rate with a shitty controller can enjoy the games the xbox has to offer on their pc, so microsoft still gets a cut either way.
      the games are where all the profit is anyway, margins on the hardware arent that great, and usually losing money at release.

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